Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said there should not be any restrictions on pilgrimage to Lord Ayyappa temple situated at Sabarimala, which falls within Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Kerala was of the view that the pilgrimage would in no way harm the tiger habitat, Chandy said in a statement after a meeting with officials of State Forest and Devaswom Board.
He said the temple at Sabarimala was centuries old and pilgrimage to this temple had started years before this area was declared a tiger reserve.
"Sabarimala is in the buffer zone and not in the core area of the tiger reserve. The pilgrimage would in no way interfere with the habitat of tigers", he said.
The meeting was held against the background of Surpeme court directions to states to convey their respose on the guidelines for conservation of tiger reserves in the country.
Kerala's stand regarding the directions would be conveyed on October 1, he said. State Advocate General has been entrusted to submit declaration in this regard after consultation with the persons concerned.
Supreme Court was aware of all things related to Sabarimala and the master plan for the development of Sabarimala for the next 50 years has been prepared as per its direction, he pointed out.
The Centre allotted 12.67 hectares of forest land from tiger reserve for stepping up pilgrimage facilities at Sabarimala after due sanction from the apex court. The land was handed over by Centre for carrying out developmental activities.
Chandy said the state would be in a position to convince the apex court the reasons for not regulating the pilgrims to Sabarimala.
The Sabarimala master-plan had the approval of the Union Environment Ministry, Empowered Committee and National Wildlife Board.